Which team stands the best chance of firing themselves to EPL safety?
There is no hiding from the stark financial impact of falling out of the English Premier League. The implications can leave their mark on relegated clubs for many seasons. In 2018, Deloitte Sports Business Group forecast that top-flight relegation in England can hurt teams by £50m in distributions from the Premier League alone. Given that most EPL teams receive around £90m a year in TV revenue and Premier League parachute payments amount to only £40m – it’s a shortfall that the owners of relegated clubs need to make up, somehow.
That’s before you even take into consideration the prospect of reductions in general matchday revenue with reduced crowds at Championship level. With all of this financial uncertainty that comes with relegation from the EPL, it’s understandable that there’s so much interest in the potential relegation candidates for the 2019/20 campaign. As we enter the second half of the season, let’s consider the six most likely contenders for the three relegation places:
It has been a season of what-ifs so far for the newly-promoted Canaries. Norwich strolled to the Championship title in 2018/19 and many people expected Daniel Farke’s men to light up the EPL with their expansive brand of football. Unfortunately, that style of play has been cruelly exposed at times by the EPL’s elite. Naïve defending and some unwanted injuries in key areas has left City lightweight all over the pitch. Three wins in their first 22 league games leaves them cut adrift at the foot of the table.
The heat is rising on Cherries boss, Eddie Howe, with Bournemouth in grave danger of slipping back into the second tier this term. Just five wins in their opening 22 games has been a real cause for concern, considering the ease with which the team has cemented themselves at mid-table level in previous years. A lack of goals looks to be their main downfall, with only 20 scored in 22 games. Howe’s rigidity in terms of playing style could backfire on the Cherries if he doesn’t show signs of having a Plan B.
Dean Smith and Aston Villa spent astronomical sums of money on new recruits in the summer, following their return back to the EPL big time via the Championship playoffs. Despite that investment, Villa have been riddled with an injury crisis at the top end of the pitch, with striker Wesley ruled out for much of the campaign. Villa’s survival hopes ultimately rest on their ability to strengthen their attacking options in the January transfer window.
Nigel Pearson has breathed new life into the Hornets
The Hornets looked down and out when Quique Sanchez Flores was fired as manager before the festive period. Eyebrows were also raised when Nigel Pearson was appointed as Flores’ replacement, a manager that had largely spent his time coaching at second-tier level. However, Pearson, a manager with self-confessed traditional values, has taken his EPL chance with both hands, overseeing four wins in their last five games to haul the Hornets out of the relegation zone – at least for the time being. Watford’s hierarchy will hope their initial momentum under Pearson can take them into a safer mid-table position, but as the joint-lowest scorers in the league they must start finding the net with more regularity.
At the time of writing, the third most likely side to join Norwich and Watford is West Ham United. The Hammers took the decision to replace Manuel Pellegrini with David Moyes recently in the hope that the Scotsman can revive their fortunes. However, the East London side are a best price 7/2 for the drop with the likes of Coral, who are one of the UK’s most respected bookmakers. Aside from having some of the best football traders in the business, Coral also followed the iGaming trend over a decade ago, giving their football punters access to hundreds of casino games and plenty of sign-up offers and promotions too.
On the face of it, Burnley look the least likely of this list of six teams to get relegated, but there are worrying signs at Turf Moor. Four successive league defeats have seen Sean Dyche’s men move to within three points of the drop zone. Their inability to grind out draws has been a big issue so far this term; a trait that has served the Clarets so well in previous EPL seasons. Burnley’s style of play has often been derided as one-dimensional, and it’s quite possible that their direct approach is now reaching its sell-by date.